Thursday, October 2, 2008

Political Strike at WV Mine

Umwa The TV station WBOY in West Virginia has a report on an interesting work stoppage at a WV mine.  It's not clear whether any CBA provisions are implicated, but the reason for the stoppage is somewhat unusual:

Coal production at a mine in Monongalia County came to a halt today when every union miner stayed home, as part of a political protest. . . .  Union officials say they took the day to protest after a film crew from the National Rifle Assocation showed up at the Consol mine last week to interview union workers. They say the crew tried to get union coal miners to speak out against Barak Obama. The UMWA has endorsed the democratic presidential nominee. . . .

"Consol doesn't let anybody on their property - never," said Safety Committee Member Mark Dorsey, "And for them to let the NRA come on the property and solicit our membership was totally uncalled for. We made our endorsement to our political process and we didn't bother them and they shouldn't be harassing our membership over this."

The company didn't comment, so it's unclear what explanation they may have, although it sounds a bit like Wal-Mart's actions in the runup to the November election.  In addition to helping establish a possible future discrimination claim if the union is ever excluded from the mine, this case could be an early application of GC Meisburg's political action memo.  There's no indication yet that the company will punish the strikers, but if that happens, my reading of the memo indicates that they're likely not to be protected under the NLRA.

If anyone has more info on this, I'd love to hear about it.


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Great Eastex case - it will definitely be on my next labor law exam. Let's see if my students can explain why distribution of literature protesting the NRA intrusion would be protected but a walkout would not. Is there a work nexus or not? Also, I wonder what impact the discriminatory granting of access would have on future union access issues in that workplace. I'm very hopeful that the Meisburg memo is not long for this world.

Posted by: Michael Duff | Oct 3, 2008 12:04:19 PM

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